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Sharpening Round Knife Alternatives Good Enough?

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The situation is something we all have to overcome one time or another. How to get the best edged on my Osborne Old-School Newark NJRound Knife. An no...I don't want to talk to a Chaplin at this time.

I tried the sandpaper idea where I increased the grit from 300 to 1500 in stages, stropped on a flesh side leather board covered with Harbor Freight Green Compound. Nogo...

I tried my DMT Diamond mini-hones from 300 to 600 to 1200 and stropped. Nogo...

I took the heathen to the mini lathe and used a cloth wheel covered in the same H.B. Green Compound. Much better....cutting 14oz shirting with a ton of pressure. Not good enough.

Was my knife in Hell before I got my hands on the god-less thing?

Joe

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20 minutes ago, AlamoJoe2002 said:

The situation is something we all have to overcome one time or another. How to get the best edged on my Osborne Old-School Newark NJRound Knife. An no...I don't want to talk to a Chaplin at this time.

I tried the sandpaper idea where I increased the grit from 300 to 1500 in stages, stropped on a flesh side leather board covered with Harbor Freight Green Compound. Nogo...

I tried my DMT Diamond mini-hones from 300 to 600 to 1200 and stropped. Nogo...

I took the heathen to the mini lathe and used a cloth wheel covered in the same H.B. Green Compound. Much better....cutting 14oz shirting with a ton of pressure. Not good enough.

Was my knife in Hell before I got my hands on the god-less thing?

Joe

There are lots of threads here about sharpening round knives... and I think there's no substitute for lots and lots of careful attention.  I don't believe 1500 grit is anywhere near fine enough.  You'd probably need to first shape the edge and then refine refine and refine, working up to maybe 4000 grit or higher and only then finishing up with stropping on leather.  I'm fairly a novice with this sharpening but I'm getting better and better.  I haven't yet succeeded in getting my round knives (an Osborne and a George Barnsley) sharp enough to skive leather... only sharp enough to cut my fingers!  :)  But I have gotten my Japanese skiving knives much sharper and as I get time I'll work more on my round knives.  You might also search YouTube for round knife sharpening videos... there are quite a few.  But sharpening properly is a long process that's got to be done very carefully.  Good luck!

 

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Greetings from one 12Bravo to another.

I don't think there's any need to beyond 14-1600. Anything beyond that and you're just going through the motions and wasting time and effort. It all about maintaining a constant angle. And the proper angle for the particular tool. I sharpen maybe once a  year,  year and a half. Other than that I strop EVERY time I pick up a blade, and EVERY time I'm done with it. And sometimes part way through a large project. For my round knives I like a long, flat angle.

Edited by tsunkasapa

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Thanks Tsunkasapa!  I'm glad you recognize our crest! I read in the sharpening forum that a few leather workers won't sharpen over 1200 grit. I liked the read from an Engineer who discussed the micro-serations of the metal knife. I forget the title. 

We are 12Bravo's or

Army Combat Engineers. -Joe

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I sharpen my Head Knife ( Tandy ) with a diamond stone 600 grit. I don't know what make but the instructions were pretty good.  Take the knife and drag it 10 times on each side, the 9 times, 8 times etc.  When you get to 1 I've found my knife to be very sharp and all I need to do is strop it before and after each use.

I also purchased a set of KERYE stones. Four Hundred, 1000, 3000 and 8000.  I use the same method and it's helped me get my Osborne skiving knife very sharp.  The 400 is to get a basic edge on the blade but doesn't sharpen it.  I push the blade in both directions and then go to the 1000 etc.  These are wet water stones except the 8000.  That stays dry.

 

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You can get a lot of experience sharpening a round knife if you start with an Osborne.  I learned through trial and error that the key was to shape the blade with gradual taper before sharpening.  Mine had a bull nose shape when new.   I spent a lot of time working the taper with coarse stones.  If you're smarter than me you'll find a friend with an abrasive belt to help you. 

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I was never able to get the "sharpness" I wanted until I followed these guys.  May not work for you . . .  but sure did for me . . . I've used that round knife more in the last month . . . than the first 10 years I owned it.

May God bless,

Dwight

 

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3 hours ago, AlamoJoe2002 said:

Thanks Tsunkasapa!  I'm glad you recognize our crest! I read in the sharpening forum that a few leather workers won't sharpen over 1200 grit. I liked the read from an Engineer who discussed the micro-serations of the metal knife. I forget the title. 

We are 12Bravo's or

Army Combat Engineers. -Joe

12B40

Delta Co. 9th Eng Bn

Aschaffenburg, Germany

1973-75

4624512324_4f0e72a0a4_z (1)aaa.jpg

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Tsunkkasapa,

1986-1989 Smith Kascern (sp)

D CO /9th EN BN

Very Small World!

Joe

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i found that that alot of my sharp knife problem was actually how i was cutting the  leather, when its laid flat on a table it becomes much harder to cut, your pushing against the leather causing it to bind on the blade plus trying to cut whatever you have under it.. I found that picking up the leather or getting some air under one side or the other makes it about a hundred times easier to cut with any knife. as far as sharpening if it can shave hair its plenty sharp. its not rocket science it just takes practice. farthest i go is 2000 grit paper for stropping if that is what you want to call it. 

  Heres where folks fail IMO, create the primary edge with a rough stone, sharpen it till its as sharp as you can get it. The edge will cut but feels rough, like a saw blade, then start with your finer stones working to clean up the edge until you start to get a very fine roll of metal forming. then you strop to take of that fine roll and polish the final edge. Most folks i have seen that have problems sharpening  don't create that sharp edge first with the rough stone, they go into the finer stuff way to soon and are just basically polishing the side of the blade not the edge.

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Thanks for the feedback all. I'm breaking out the water sharpening stones and start at 400 grit. I will send a  ton of time at this grit and work the round knife in thirds...two outside and inside. I will get the hang of this sooner or later. If it is totally out of my realm I send it to Bruce Johnson for sharpening.

 

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Hey, Alamo . . . believe me . . . if I can figure it out . . . get a knife that will skive off about one oz at a time . . . anybody can do it . . . and I did it.

I watched that video I sent you . . . went to work on it . . . and so help me . . . I think I could come close to dissecting a fly's chin whiskers.

I am VERY careful with it . . . didn't used to be before . . . and almost never used it.

Now it is the first knife I think of . . . 

May God bless,

Dwight

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Finally watched the above video - is anybody else surprised that the man sharpens his knife in the opposite direction to the rest of the world? And by rest of the world I not only mean YouTubers but also the author of "An Edge in the Kitchen" and a knife maker friend... Now I'm going to check what Stohlman says...

Edited by Klara

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the video is spot on,  i will say though they are stropping the blade after the edge has been established, or in essence keeping it sharp. You still need to create the edge before you can proceed to this step. Rough stones create the edge then the edge gets polished finer like they are doing to the point you are satisfied.

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What surprised me is that I've learned to sharpen a knife by pushing the cutting edge, as if trying to cut a thin slice off the stone. Which is what Denny says not to do, he says to pull the blade in the opposite direction. Stohlman recommends a circular motion...

I'm wondering whether maybe it doesn't matter, as long as the angle stays constant and I end up with an edge.

 

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3 hours ago, Klara said:

What surprised me is that I've learned to sharpen a knife by pushing the cutting edge, as if trying to cut a thin slice off the stone. Which is what Denny says not to do, he says to pull the blade in the opposite direction. Stohlman recommends a circular motion...

I'm wondering whether maybe it doesn't matter, as long as the angle stays constant and I end up with an edge.

 

I've seen experts recommend just about every way possible, but I honestly think that keeping a constant angle is FAR more important than which way you move the blade.  Whatever helps you do that is the best way for YOU!.   I always had trouble getting the angle just right, and found these a couple of years ago to help out.  https://www.amazon.com/Wedgek-Angle-Guides-Sharpening-Knife/dp/B01N4QMO7U/ref=sr_1_3?crid=NPOJ866V0K3G&keywords=wedgek+angle&qid=1650970482&sprefix=wedgek+angle%2Caps%2C103&sr=8-3

- Bill

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4 hours ago, Klara said:

I'm wondering whether maybe it doesn't matter, as long as the angle stays constant and I end up with an edge.

 

:17:

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1 hour ago, billybopp said:

I've seen experts recommend just about every way possible, but I honestly think that keeping a constant angle is FAR more important than which way you move the blade.  Whatever helps you do that is the best way for YOU!.   I always had trouble getting the angle just right, and found these a couple of years ago to help out.  https://www.amazon.com/Wedgek-Angle-Guides-Sharpening-Knife/dp/B01N4QMO7U/ref=sr_1_3?crid=NPOJ866V0K3G&keywords=wedgek+angle&qid=1650970482&sprefix=wedgek+angle%2Caps%2C103&sr=8-3

- Bill

I wish there was a “like” button :specool:

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1 hour ago, billybopp said:

I've seen experts recommend just about every way possible, but I honestly think that keeping a constant angle is FAR more important than which way you move the blade.  Whatever helps you do that is the best way for YOU!.

This. Like Billy I've seen people who know what they're about sharpen knives and other edge tools in just about every direction -- push, pull, little circles and parallel along the edge. Even Tormek acknowledge that sharpening into or away from the edge is perfectly acceptable and design their machines and jigs to work both ways. How you establish and maintain that consistent edge angle is the thing. With practice it's perfectly feasible to do it freehand -- millions of carpenters, saddlers and luthiers have been doing it since the Iron Age. It's not cheating if you use a bought or DIY jig though. Assuming that you're not deliberately reshaping the edge of the blade just maintain that angle while honing both sides until you bevels meet (it will develop a consistent wire edge all along), then go up a grit size or strop and a slightly steeper angle on something gentle like your palm or jeans just until the burr comes off. Then strop to polish the bevel and get cutting.

I've found that the edge is only part of the story when it comes to cutting tool effectiveness, especially on something like a head or round knife. The bevels leading up to the edge are crucial too, especially with thicker and stiffer materials. While you might be able to get away with a straight, flat piece of steel a couple millimetres back from the edge if you're cutting a piece of basil you need a long, smooth and well polished taper if you're cutting bridle back or tooling shoulder. The reason should be obvious: a steep bevel gets jammed into the cut on thicker leathers, and an unpolished one drags more than a polished one. Grinding long, smoothly tapered or convexed bevels is a time consuming job, so a lot of knives these days don't come like that from the factory. Many head and round knives are overthick too. My favourites are all 2mm max thickness at the ferrule and taper gradually to the main cutting bevel.

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2 hours ago, Matt S said:

This. Like Billy I've seen people who know what they're about sharpen knives and other edge tools in just about every direction -- push, pull, little circles and parallel along the edge. Even Tormek acknowledge that sharpening into or away from the edge is perfectly acceptable and design their machines and jigs to work both ways. How you establish and maintain that consistent edge angle is the thing. With practice it's perfectly feasible to do it freehand -- millions of carpenters, saddlers and luthiers have been doing it since the Iron Age. It's not cheating if you use a bought or DIY jig though. Assuming that you're not deliberately reshaping the edge of the blade just maintain that angle while honing both sides until you bevels meet (it will develop a consistent wire edge all along), then go up a grit size or strop and a slightly steeper angle on something gentle like your palm or jeans just until the burr comes off. Then strop to polish the bevel and get cutting.

I've found that the edge is only part of the story when it comes to cutting tool effectiveness, especially on something like a head or round knife. The bevels leading up to the edge are crucial too, especially with thicker and stiffer materials. While you might be able to get away with a straight, flat piece of steel a couple millimetres back from the edge if you're cutting a piece of basil you need a long, smooth and well polished taper if you're cutting bridle back or tooling shoulder. The reason should be obvious: a steep bevel gets jammed into the cut on thicker leathers, and an unpolished one drags more than a polished one. Grinding long, smoothly tapered or convexed bevels is a time consuming job, so a lot of knives these days don't come like that from the factory. Many head and round knives are overthick too. My favourites are all 2mm max thickness at the ferrule and taper gradually to the main cutting bevel.

:16: The edge needs to be sharp, but the long, POLISHED taper is vitally important to get the job done easily. 

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16 hours ago, Matt S said:

The bevels leading up to the edge are crucial too, especially with thicker and stiffer materials.

Thanks for pointing that out! It seems obvious now but I hadn't really seen that this is one of the reasons I like Claude's recent knives so much (they are thin and flexible and don't have a distinct edge bevel). I'll have a look at my less-favourite knives with that in mind.

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7 hours ago, Klara said:

Thanks for pointing that out! It seems obvious now but I hadn't really seen that this is one of the reasons I like Claude's recent knives so much (they are thin and flexible and don't have a distinct edge bevel). I'll have a look at my less-favourite knives with that in mind.

and that is why leather is so much harder to cut when laying flat on a surface it applies drag through direct pressure on the side of the blade. Pick up a piece and cut it you will find the job much easier to do. 

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On 4/22/2022 at 2:52 PM, AlamoJoe2002 said:

The situation is something we all have to overcome one time or another. How to get the best edged on my Osborne Old-School Newark NJRound Knife. An no...I don't want to talk to a Chaplin at this time.

I tried the sandpaper idea where I increased the grit from 300 to 1500 in stages, stropped on a flesh side leather board covered with Harbor Freight Green Compound. Nogo...

I tried my DMT Diamond mini-hones from 300 to 600 to 1200 and stropped. Nogo...

I took the heathen to the mini lathe and used a cloth wheel covered in the same H.B. Green Compound. Much better....cutting 14oz shirting with a ton of pressure. Not good enough.

Was my knife in Hell before I got my hands on the god-less thing?

Joe

First of ESSAYONS BROTHER!

Joe knows what t means folks :)

So sharpening this is something that I learned from my grand father people will argue but here are my two cents you can leave it on the table or put it in your pocket.

My grandfather could sharpen a blade so sharp looking at it would cut you. Lol not really but you get the idea.

 

Heres what he taught me

First off angle of the blade...... it doesn't have to be exact. A blade wil cut  according to the way you cut with it. The angle i hold a blade may not be the same angle as you hold it so angle is all subjective to who is  cutting with the blade.

 

Second take the edge off every blade when you first get it. This is done by running the edge toward the stone as if you are  trying to slice a paper thin sliver off the stone. 

 

The reason because of  rule one you and i hold a blade slightly different because we are different people. HHe always said " You will know you are getting there because it will feel right" sounds crazy but it is true the blade feels different when you find YOUR angle gliding across the stone . It just literally feels right.

 

 

3rd once you have that bevel from taking the edge off go the opposite way with the blade to put your edge on it. Instead of taking the edge toward the stone now you take it away from the stone. This will sharpen it.

 

always start a new knife or blade with a medium stone then go to a finer stone like an arkansas stone.

 

after getting the edge so it will catch hair. now you strop it

 

three colors of rouge in this order on seperate strops

 

1green

2white

3red

 

Strop it just like you did when you sharpened it.

Use Light pressure not hard, like your trying to  romance the blade  " You sharpen a blade like you romance a girl boy light and easy. It's a love affair not a war. Treat it that way. " is what he used to say when i was learning to  sharpen.

things he said  to NEVER do.

Never use a wheel to sharpen a blade it creates  heat and you can untemper the blade. you use the wheel to  shape a blade not to sharpen it and when you shape it your constantly quenching it to hold that temper.

Never use sandpaper its not a block of wood its metal you want to polish it not scratch it.

that's me and Papwas  2 cents and what I learned from a man who could sharpen a blade so sharp it would cut you looking at it.

you know that scene in the movie body guard when he takes the silk sash from her neck throws it over the sword and it slices it as it falls. I did not believe that was possible. My grandfather showed me it was with his bowie knife. My grandmother was pissed beacuse he used her scarf to demonstrate. ( We got in alot of trouble together lol)

 

 

Hope it helps Sapper

 

 

 

Edited by Currahee

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Great feed back everyone. I'm using my water stones...will stick with the 400 grit for a while.

I feel it is critical in any trade to properly have your tools in order. I'm going to learn to sharpen. Thanks, Joe

 

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